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Holiday park to face legal action after talks fail to resolve 'complex' problems on site

PUBLISHED: 09:47 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:51 18 July 2019

Alan Forward, owner of Stonham Barns  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alan Forward, owner of Stonham Barns Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Housing officials confirmed a holiday park owner will face enforcement action after talks failed to resolve problems of guests staying on site all year.

Holiday lodges at Stonham Barns  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNHoliday lodges at Stonham Barns Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) made the comments in a letter to residents of Stonham Barns, seen by this newspaper.

The council has spent months looking into issues at the park, which it said were "complex and would take time to resolve".

Authorities became aware of problems after an "emergency" visit last year found guests, many older and infirm, living on site as their permanent residence - contrary to regulations.

MORE: Holiday park to be prosecuted over tenants staying on site all year round

Park owner Alan Forward said at the time guests had been told of regulations and he would work with MSDC to resolve breaches. This week, he said he was "as keen as the council" to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Crazy Golf at Stonham Barns  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCrazy Golf at Stonham Barns Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

But MSDC's recent letter to guests shows talks have not yet succeeded. "As the discussions have not been productive, we have no alternative but to proceed with enforcement action," it says.

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Guests we spoke to claimed they moved in believing it would be their permanent home. They said they first became aware of the regulations when park management sent letters telling them they must vacate during the January "break period". Some said they lived on site for years and had nowhere else to stay. MSDC's letter to guests says the regulations mean the site must not be used as their main residence and people must vacate for January - but that both conditions had been breached.

It has asked people to provide evidence they have a permanent home elsewhere. Those without another residence, and unable to afford the costs of finding one, have been invited to complete a form for the council's housing department to assess options which may be available.

One guest said they had not received the letter. They feared they would be ineligible for help and would need to find a private rental. The resident said they wanted to wait until they had left the park before renting a new property, to avoid paying twice.

MSDC and Stonham Aspal Parish Council said in a statement investigations would continue this month and further planning applications would also be determined. They acknowledged enforcement of conditions "could be worrying for some occupants" but said support would be provided to those who need it.

The breach of condition notices requires the site owner to ensure it is only occupied for holiday purposes - and gives him three months to comply.

At Tuesday's meeting of Stonham Aspall Parish Council, councillors said they wanted to see a successful leisure and tourism facility at Stonham Barns, which adheres to the law and its planning conditions.

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